Friday Kickoff: Ronaldinho extends with Mineiro; Real Madrid, Bayern chase Pogba; and more

RonaldinhoAtleticoMineiro1-Newell'sOldBoysCopaLib2013 (AP)

By DAN KARELL

Atletico Mineiro have covered up the disappointment of their third-place finish at the Club World Cup by re-signing their star midfielder.

Club president Alexandre Khalil announced on Twitter that Ronaldinho has agreed to sign a new contract with “O Galo (the Rooster),” keeping him at the club as they look to defend their Copa Libertadores crown. The news ends any speculation that the former FIFA World Player of the Year will move to Turkey, specifically Besiktas.

Since signing with Mineiro in 2012, Ronaldinho has re-vitalized his career after a sharp drop-off from his glory days with Barcelona. After leading the club to a Brazilian league title in 2012, Ronaldinho and Mineiro won the club’s first ever Copa Libertadores title in dramatic fashion, a 4-3 victory in a penalty kick shootout.

Last season, Ronaldinho played 38 times in all competitions for the Rooster, despite missing nearly two months with a thigh injury suffered in late September. He scored 17 goals in all.

Here are some more stories to start your Friday:

REAL MADRID AND BAYERN JOIN RACE TO SIGN POGBA

Juventus’ young wunderkind Paul Pogba has drawn the attention of both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich recently.

According to a report in Italian newspaper Gazzetta Dello Sport the German and Spain giants have joined Paris Saint-Germain in the race to sign Pogba. The report states that it would take a bid of at least €60 million to convince Juventus to part ways with Pogba, and that the club are currently negotiating with agent Mino Raiola on a new deal for the young Frenchman.

The 20-year-old has broken into the Juventus first team this season following a strong performance at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and is now one of the most sought-after players in the world. Even at his age, Pogba is a starter for the France National Team and will likely start this summer at the World Cup in Brazil.

TOURE NAMED AFRICAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Yaya Toure has added another honor to his overflowing silverware cabinet.

For the third straight year, the Confederation of African Football has voted the Manchester City midfielder as the African Player of the Year. Toure beat Didier Drogba of Galatasaray and John Obi Mikel of Chelsea for this year’s honors.

“What I am doing now, I am doing very well and I am very happy about that,” Toure told BBC Sport. ”It was quite tight – because it there were good opponents in front of me. Obi Mikel was doing well – and Drogba as well, so I was thinking maybe I would lose it. I am lucky today, I am very proud of myself.”

Toure joins famous African stars Samuel Eto’o and Abedi Pele as players to win the CAF Player of the Year three years in a row. So far this season, Toure has scored a career high ten-English Premier League goals, 13 in all competitions, in 27 total games.

QUICK KICKS

West Bromwich Albion have appointed former Real Betis manager Pepe Mel as their newest head coach. (REPORT)

Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his injury comeback on Thursday, playing 45 minutes for the Arsenal reserves. (REPORT)

Former Manchester City forward Elano has signed a one-year contract with Brazilian club Flamengo, which play in the Copa Libertadores this year. (REPORT)

Meanwhile current Man City forward Alvaro Negredo admits that he nearly moved to Everton last January but rejected David Moyes’ advances. (REPORT)

After failing to sign Maxime Gonalons from Lyon and Radja Nainggolan from Cagliari, Napoli have turned their sights on €15 million rated former France youth international Yann M’Vila at Rubin Kazan. (REPORT)

A second division club in Sweden are being paid upwards of $76 million by the Libyan government to help educate their soccer players in all facets of the game. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you feel Ronaldinho can lead Mineiro to another Copa Libertadores title? Do you believe that Pogba is worth €60 million? Was Toure the best African player of the last 12 months?

Share your thoughts below.

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7 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Ronaldinho extends with Mineiro; Real Madrid, Bayern chase Pogba; and more

  1. Reboot says:

    Pogba is worth 100 million. I am biased, he is my favorite footballer.

  2. slowleftarm says:

    Man U really blew it with Pogba, that guy is good.

  3. AcidBurn says:

    Really, Bayern? Why don’t you just pick up Messi too as bench depth?
    Must still be angered that they lost the German Super Cup (or whatever it is called) to Dortmund, every trophy must be theirs!!

  4. El Paso tx says:

    Is ronaldinho ever coming to MLS?
    Ronaldinho is on the same level as Becks, and MLS needs a star like him. Pay him what he wants and get him over here.
    Christiano Ronaldo will come but that’s like in 6 years, messi won’t because he wants to retire in Barcelona or Argentina, but he would be another Becks signing.
    I personally think, if MLS don’t get ronaldinho, MLS will regret that forever.
    Think, who is the next big thing that can come to MLS, drogba, Anelka, kaka, rosicky, Defoe, casillas, tevez,, klose, Lampard, cole.
    If not ronaldinho then who?